Exxon Mobil has banned flying flags outside the office that symbolize a stance on a particular social issue, including pride flags.
The decision, in a policy seen by Bloomberg, comes after Exxon Mobil made an exception last year during Pride Month to display the flag.
“The updated flag protocol is intended to clarify the use of the ExxonMobil branded company flag and not intended to diminish our commitment to diversity and support for employee resource groups,” Tracey Gunnlaugsson, vice president of human resources, said in a statement.
“We’re committed to keeping an open, honest, and inclusive workplace for all of our employees, and we’re saddened that any employee would think otherwise,” Gunnlaugsson added.
However, the move has sparked backlash from Exxon’s Pride employee group, which has 3,000 members.
“Corporate leadership took exception to a rainbow flag being flown at our facilities” last year, Exxon’s Pride employee group in Houston said in an email Thursday, according to Bloomberg. “PRIDE was informed the justification was centered on the need for the corporation to maintain ‘neutrality.’”
The group says it will not be representing the company in Houston’s Pride parade in June due to the decision.
“It is difficult to reconcile how ExxonMobil recognizes the value of promoting our corporation as supportive of the LGBTQ+ community externally (e.g. advertisements, Pride parades, social media posts) but now believes it inappropriate to visibly show support for our LGBTQ+ employees at the workplace,” the group said, according to Bloomberg.
“These types of visible actions are even more impactful for many of our LGBTQ+ colleagues who aren’t out at work and may not feel comfortable participating in PRIDE events,” the group added.
Exxon’s decision not to give an exception for pride flags comes a little over a month before June, which is celebrated as Pride Month.
The new also comes amid a fight in Florida over what critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) this year.
The Florida House voted Thursday to strip Disney — a large source of income and tourism for the state — of its self-government in and around its Florida theme parks after the company said that the law should have never been signed.
Disney also paused political donations in Florida over the legislation.
The Hill has reached out to Exxon for comment.